help relatives in isolation

How to support older relatives in isolation

Now well into a month in isolation and lockdown, we are adapting and settling into this new way of living. However, it looks like we’ll be living like this for longer than we first thought, with the Government advising to brace ourselves for a long battle.

With news that the UK will need to maintain some form of social distancing for up to a year, how will that affect the older generation? And what can we do to support older relatives in isolation through this prolonged period?

Keep in touch

It’s really important to keep in regular touch. This may be a struggle if you are juggling working from home and homeschooling, but even a short call, or a text or email shows that you are thinking of them. Try to video call where possible, to see a friendly face.

It could be a good idea to set up a rota among family and friends, to ensure that your loved one receives frequent calls and to check they’re ok.

If your relative is new to video calling, check out Abbeyfield’s handy Guide to Video Calls

Help with groceries

Supermarkets have now set up priority home deliveries for the most vulnerable. Has your relative got access to these if it applies to them? Are they set up on online shopping, or can you do it for them?  

If online ordering isn’t working, or your relative prefers to shop in-store, the major supermarkets also have dedicated hours for older people to shop.

Even better, if you are well could you pick up some shopping for an older neighbour or relative? Or some treats that you know they love? Make sure you leave items on their front doorstep, knock on their door and step back while they receive it. Stand 2 metres away from them at all times.

older relatives in isolation
Some nurseries are offering home delivery

Send your love

Write a letter, or make and send a card through the post. Do you remember the joy of receiving a nice surprise in the post? Recreate the feeling for your relative. Could grandchildren make a card, write a letter or draw or colour some pictures? Could you pick a card to make them laugh?   

How about sending a care package – their favourite biscuits or treats? Or body lotions and potions? Many nurseries and garden companies are operating deliveries, so even plants for a keen gardener?

Swap shop

Are you short on puzzles? Do you have lots of films/DVDs? Set up a family swap shop with recommendations. Share puzzles, books and films around the family so that you have a new supply to keep busy. 

You can always post books or DVDs if your relatives are further away, and remember to keep 2 metres apart if you are dropping anything off at a relative’s front door.

Spend time together (online)

There are also lots of online quizzes that you can do as a family, online via video calls. From virtual pub quizzes to sounds of the 60s, search YouTube and Facebook to see what interests you. They’re a good way of having fun and taking part, safely. We’ve also seen posts of people playing scrabble, charades and board games via video call.  

Alternatively, how about having dinner together? Make sure you both have dinner ready for the same time, take your laptop/tablet to the dinner table and eat together via video call. You could even do cooking or baking online with Grandma too. Set up the tablet so that she can help and advise… although she may not get to taste the results! 

Read more

For more ideas to help, read our blog Keeping Occupied During Isolation

Useful numbers & Links

  • If your relative is an Abbeyfield South Downs resident, please contact the House Manager
  • Keep up to date with the latest NHS Advice
  • For a cheerful chat, day or night, call Silver Line: 0800 470 80 90
  • For practical information and advice, call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 65 65